Ain't no Ferentz like a Cy-Hawk Ferentz cuz a Cy-Hawk Ferentz don't stop.
Here's what we learned from Kirk's Tuesday presser (as always, full transcript from Hawkeye Nation):
Interior lineman Cole Banwart is back and should play this week, though it's unclear how he will slot into a line rotation that has looked excellent through the first two weeks of the season.
No real update on Alaric Jackson's status, other than that he's not playing this week. Same goes for cornerback Matt Hankins: "We’ll just ride it out and see where it goes," Ferentz said, which doesn't really answer anything. Kaevon Merriweather is also probably out, and the defensive backfield is lacking all of that depth from two weeks ago: "Our biggest concern, I think, is just taking many more hits back there. We’re getting a little thin right now."
One of the upshots of the injuries in the secondary: Iowa can't run as much 4-2-5 as it would like.
As much as any, we’re just getting a little thin right now in the back end. I mentioned their two deep, how veteran their two deep is. There’s some names in our two deep right now that you’d have to get out your program to figure out who’s who. So we’re a little thin back there.
But Ferentz also said that Iowa's reliance on the base 4-3 in the first two weeks is a result of "want[ing] to get your best guys out there and guys that can handle the situation the best," which pretty clearly implies they don't have anyone ready to play the "cash" position and another plug-and-play Niemann brother at linebacker.
THE GAMEDAY EFFECT
Kirk doesn't seem too worried about the ESPN road show being in the parking lot of Jack Trice Saturday:
They were here — I can’t remember what year it was. It didn’t impact the game. I don’t think it will impact this one either. There’s always been a lot of hype, if you will, or interest in this game for obvious reasons.
The nice thing about it is I don’t think a lot of people outside our state bounds necessarily understand the intensity of the rivalry and just what a great thing it is. So maybe that will add to the spotlight a little bit.
There will surely be some additional media obligations created by the Gameday spotlight this week, but Iowa's usually pretty good at deflecting that distraction away from the players. Not much else should change. Frankly, the fact that it's the first road game of the season will have a greater effect on Iowa's routines.
THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM
Ferentz went back to an old Cy-Hawk Week PR tactic: Insisting repeatedly that this is an IMPORTANT GAME against a CHALLENGING OPPONENT. He started with the opening statement ("First of all, it’s going to be a really tense, competitive football game, always a challenge"), continued into the first answers ("The game on the field is important to everybody involved, and it’s always been challenging") and kept on making an appearance throughout.
That led to some awkward shoehorning by Kirk. For instance, this answer on his confidence in the kicking game:
[A]ny time you get into games like this, and any big games, which I certainly consider this to be, all those axioms or the old adages prove to be true, and certainly special teams are going to be a big, big part of the ball game.
Look, this isn't that complicated. Ten years ago, fans frequently knocked Ferentz for not caring enough about the Iowa State game, mostly because his teams had a maddening tendency to sleepwalk through losses to some truly horrific Iowa State squads. When Kirk's job got dangled following the 2014 Nebraska meltdown, something changed in Iowa's mindset. Since then, Iowa is 4-0 against Ames, and 12-0 against ISU, Nebraska and Minnesota. Perhaps more importantly, Ferentz no longer seems afraid of rolling out something more than his base offense against Iowa State, treating it less as a preseason tune-up than a quasi-conference game.
Yes, perhaps Ferentz doth promote too much, but it's far better than the previous "every game is important" mindset that had Iowa losing to five field goals against a 2-10 Cyclone squad. And if it translates onto the field, both in playcalling and execution, I'll gladly deal with this drivel.
Kirk deflected on two questions regarding run-pass options, one with cliche...
The basics are the basics. There are certain guys assigned to the run. Other people have to respect the pass. It’s first things first, like anything you do in sports. But it’s easier said than done.
and the second with a variation on "we don't do it because that's not what we do":
There’s just only so much you can do some sports. It’s like anything else. We pick black uniforms. Some people pick red. It’s just what we do.
It's a terrible answer to a legitimate question -- why won't Iowa adopt this basic strategy that is being used elsewhere -- because the real answer, Kirk doesn't like it, isn't a real answer at all. We got four straight wins over Iowa State. We can't ask for everything.